Smith Hails Sakharov Prize Award

15 December 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) congratulated Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas on winning the European Parliament's prestigious annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

The prize, which is named after the acclaimed Soviet scientist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, is awarded every year to "honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression".  This year's winner, Mr Guillermo Farinas, 48, was unable to attend the ceremony in Strasbourg as he is presently unable to leave Cuba.  The diploma was delivered to a symbolic empty chair, and the plenary session heard a recorded message from Mr Farinas in which he called on the parliamentarians to continue to support those struggling across "our tormented world" for justice and freedom.
 
Speaking after the award, Smith said:
 
"I'm instinctively wary of pomp and circumstance, and sometimes this Parliament has a rather inflated sense of its own importance, but today it was all merited, the Sakharov Prize is genuinely prestigious, and does useful work in highlighting all the individuals worldwide who are working so hard, often at considerable risk to themselves, to win freedom.
 
"The Parliamentary nominations process is itself a useful way for individuals and groups within the Parliament to seek out and bring campaigns in far flung parts of the world to a wider audience, and I commend Mr Farinas on his win.  As the President of Parliament himself said today, I look forward to the day Mr Farinas can attend to receive his diploma in person."
 
Further background information on the Sakharov Prize and Guillermo Farinas can be found at the link below:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/focus_page/015-84708-274-10-40-902-20101001FCS84570-01-10-2010-2010/default_p001c004_en.htm